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Holidays and Holy days…

December 25, 2013

The New Year is upon us. Resolutions are being made.  Budgets are being closed out for last year and new ones opened for 2014.  Christmas decorations will soon be taken down, if they haven’t already. And we will begin to settle in for the long winter ahead.  Winter, in this part of the world, is a time in which the Lord’s gives rest to his creation.  Trees and other plants, often go into a dormancy period, preparing for the spring.  Bears and other animals hibernate taking strength from the nourishment they have received earlier.  And as we read following the Bible story of our Savior’s birth we enter into a period of silence – Jesus’ time as a youth about which we know so little.  Silence in so many ways is golden.

And yet there seems to be so little silence in our lives.  We still fill our days with busyness, of home and hearth, of labor and lending, of travel and training.  The fireplace calls forth a time of rest when we can read a book, rest our eyes, or just relax with family.  But will we hearken to the call?  I personally fear having too much time alone, experiencing too much silence, spending too much time for thinking and processing and I often wonder if others do too?

In the silent and restful periods of our lives we can rest and reflect but that can be a bitter struggle for many as unbidden thoughts of past guilt, current loss, or future anxieties present themselves.  And yet it can be a time when God works wonders in our lives.  These times can be times of rest and renewal when we feed on the nourishment and provision God has previously provided.  They can be times when God works some radical surgery to mold us and shape us.

Carol and I will be doing some traveling following Christmas.  We’ll spend time in Detroit with my sisters, in Bangkok with Natalie and, in Chiang Mai a place we called home for a significant part of our lives, and other friends and missionaries.  While we will be busy visiting and hopefully encouraging missionary friends, so too will we be taking time to reflect.  It may be poolside instead of in front of a fireplace or it may be over a spicy hot meal of some strange concoction rather than the familiar cold weather soups and stews of North Central PA.  It may be in a language far different from English, but we have committed ourselves to spending time resting and reflecting.

I invite you too into the stillness that we are directed to as the Lord speaks to us in Psalm 46 –

 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble…

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells…

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 May your New Year be blessed with the peace which passes all understanding.

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